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DECLINE AND FALL
THE ROMAN EMPIRE.
CHAP. XXIX. Final division of the Roman empire between the sons of Theodo
sius.-Reign of Arcadius and Honorius.—Administration of Rufinus and Stilicho.—Revolt and defeat of Gildo in Africa.
between Arcadius and Hono
Division of The genius of Rome expired with Theodothe empire
te sius; the last of the successors of Augustus
and Constantine, who appeared in the field at rius, ce the head of their armies, and whose authority A. D. 395, Jan. 17. was universally acknowledged throughout the whole extent of the empire. The memory of his virtues still continued, however, to protect the feeble and inexperienced youth of his two sons. After the death of their father, Arcadius and Honorius were saluted, by the unanimous consent of mankind, as the lawful emperors of the east, and of the west; and the oath of fidelity was eagerly taken by every order of the state: the senates of old and new Rome, the clergy, the magistrates, the soldiers, and the people. Arcadius, who then was about eighteen years of age, was born in Spain, in the humble habitation of a private family. But he received a princely education in the palace of Constantinople; and his inglorious life was spent in that peaceful and splendid seat of royalty, from whence he appeared VOL. iy.
to reign over the provinces of Thrace, Asia Minor, Syria, and Egypt, from the Lower Danube to the confines of Persia and Æthiopia. His younger brother, Honorius, assumed, in the eleventh year of his age, the nominal government of Italy, Africa, Gaul, Spain, and Britain; and the troops, which guarded the frontiers of his kingdom, were opposed on the one side to the Caledonians, and on the other to the Moors. The great and martial' prefecture of Illyricum was divided between the two princes; the defence and possession of the provinces of Noricum, Pannonia, and Dalmatia, still belonged to the western empire; but the two large diocesses of Dacia and Macedonia, which Gratian had entrusted to the valour of Theodosius, were for ever united to the empire of the east. The boundary in Europe was not very different from the line which now separates the Germans and the Turks; and the respective advantages of territory, riches, populousness, and military strength, were fairly balanced and compensated, in this final and permanent division of the Roman empire. The hereditary sceptre of the sons of Theodosius appeared to be the gift of nature, and of their father; the generals and ministers had been accustomed to adore the majesty of the royal infants; and the army and people were not admonished of their rights, and of their power, by the dangerous example of a recent election. The gradual discovery of the weakness of Arcadius and Honorius, and the repeated calamities of their reign, were not sufficient to obliterate the deep and early impressions of loyalty. The subjects of Rome, who still reverenced the persons, or rather names, of their sovereigns, beheld, with equal abhorrence, the rebels who opposed, and the ministers who abused, the authority of the throne. Character Theodosius had tarnished the glory of his and administration reign by the elevation of Rufinus; an odious
favourite, who, in an age of civil and religious A. D. 386 faction, has deserved, from every party, the im-395.
putation of every crime. The strong impulse of ambition and avarice had urged Rufinus to abandon his native country, an obscure, corner of Gaul, to advance his fortune in the capital of the east: the talent of bold and ready elocution qualified him to succeed in the lucrative profession of the law; and his success in that profession was a regular step to the most honourable and important employments of the state. He was raised, by just degrees, to the station of master of the offices. In the exercise of his various funetions, so essentially connected with the whole system of civil government, he acquired the confidence of a monarch, who soon discovered his diligence and capacity in business, and who long remained ignorant of the pride, the malice, and the covetousness, of his disposition. These vices were concealed beneath the mask of profound dissimulation ;' his passions were subservient only to the passions of his master; yet, in the horrid massacre of Thessalonica, the cruel Rufinus inflamed the fury, without imitating the repentance, of Theodosius. The minister, who viewed with proud indifference the rest of mankind, never forgave the appearance of an injury; and his personal enemies had forfeited, in his opinion, the merit of all public services. Promotus, the master-general of the infantry, had saved the empire from the invasion of the Ostrogoths; but he indignantly supported the preeminence of a rival, whose character and profession he
a Alecto, envious of the public felicity, convenes an infernal synod. Megæra recommends her pupil Rufinus, and excites him to deeds of mischief, &c. But there is as much difference between Claudian's fury, and that of Virgil, as between the characters of Turnus and Rufinus.
It is evident, (Tillemont, Hist. des Emp. tom. 5. p.770.) though de Marca is ashamed of his countryman, that Rufinus was born at Elusa, the metropolis of Novempopulania, now a small village of Gascony. (D'Anville, Notice de l'Ancienne Gaule, p. 289.) c Philostorgius, lib. 11. c. 3. with Godefroy's Dissert. p. 440.
A passage of Suidas is expressive of his profound dissimulation ; la fugrwpowy ανθρωπος και κρυψινος.
despised; and, in the midst of a public council, the impatient soldier was provoked to chastise with a blow the indecent pride of the favourite. This act of violence was represented to the emperor as an insult, which it was incumbent on his dignity to resent. The disgrace and exile of Promotus were signified by a peremptory order, to repair, without delay, to a military station on the banks of the Danube; and the death of that general (though he was slain in a skirmish with the barbarians) was imputed to the perfidious arts of Rufinus." The sacrifice of a hero gratified his revenge; the honours of the consulship elated his vanity; but his power was still imperfect and precarious, as long as the important posts of prefect of the east, and of prefect of Constantinople, were filled by Tatian, and his son Proculus; whose united authority balanced, for some time, the ambition and favour of the master of the offices. The two prefects were accused of rapine and corruption in the administration of the laws and finances. For the trial of these illustrious offenders, the emperor constituted a special commission; several judges were named to share the guilt and reproach of injustice; but the right of pronouncing sentence was reserved to the president alone, and that president was Rufinus himself. The father, stripped of the prefecture of the east, was thrown into a dungeon; but the son, conscious that few ministers can be found innocent, where an enemy is their judge, had secretly escaped; and Rufinus must have been satisfied with the least obnoxious victim, if despotism had not condescended to employ the basest and most ungenerous artifice. The prosecution was
e Zosimus, lib. 4. p. 272,273. f Zosimus, who describes the fall of Tatian and his son, (lib. 4. p. 273,274.) asserts their innocence: and even his testimony may outweigh the charges of their enemies, (Cod. Theodos, tom.4, p. 489.) who accuse them of oppressing the Curie. The connexion of Tatian with the Arians, while he was prefect of Egypt, (A. D. 373.) inclines Tillemont to believe that he was guilty of every crime. (Hist, des Emp. tom. 5. p. 360. Mem. Eccles, tom. 6. p. 589.)